New producer says directive 'makes no sense'

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South Africa: An order by South African competition authorities to delay cement industry statistics by three months will negatively affect perceptions of economic activity in the country, according to industry newcomer Sephaku Cement.

The CEO of Sephaku Pieter Fourie said that the directive by the South African Competition Commission to the Cement and Concrete Institute that it delay the publication of its quarterly national cement sales figures by three months made 'no sense'. The institute represents the four major cement producers in South Africa: Pretoria Portland Cement, AfriSam, Lafarge and NPC-Cimpor.

Sephaku, a Nigerian-backed newcomer, is building an integrated cement production facility in the Limpopo province, where it intends to produce cement from the fourth quarter of 2013. It says that cement sales form a large component of construction activity in South Africa and are a leading economic indicator. Sephaku believe that the change in reporting will affect related economic predictions.

Stephan Olivier, CEO of AfriSam, commented that the change in industry reporting was a bid to make it difficult to use the data for anti-competitive behaviour. Simon Roberts, chief economist and manager of the commission's policy and research division, said that companies had previously used the data provided by the institute to 'monitor' their cartel agreement.

Projects by Nigerian-backed Sephaku and a new Chinese-backed empowerment entity, Conticem, will boost South Africa's capacity by nearly 5Mt/yr. Both Sephaku and AfriSam anticipate a better industry outlook in 2012 but uncertainty remains over the government's ability to accelerate its infrastructure plans.

Last modified on 18 April 2012

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